Work smarter, not harder: Every single person in business for themselves knows this is true. But honestly, it takes some time to figure out how to implement that whole “working smarter” thing.
Owning a small business is work; there is no doubt about that. When I was a teenager, I started my first business. I created an idea, implemented a business plan, found customers, made and shipped product, handled accounting, purchased new supplies and more — so much more.
The idea for the product was unique, and sales were always good — until the second year of the business. That year, our sales grew by leaps and bounds. Our sales were easily ten times that of the previous year, and there was no slowdown in sight. All was great, except that I had been doing everything myself. That had to change.
There just weren’t enough hours in the day for me to continue at that pace. There was no feasible way, and I needed to learn to delegate.
I realized that something was going to have to give, and I didn’t want it to be my sanity or education, as I was also a full-time college student. I sat down and made a list of everything that needed to be done: in-house tasks, behind-the-scenes chores, what had to happen to get our product out the door. Then, I broke it down by how my time would be best utilized.
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I started by outsourcing some of the tasks that I had no business managing anyway — things like printing catalogs and packaging. We didn’t need to do our printing in-house. Especially when there were printshops that were more than capable and around the price point we were spending to do it ourselves.
Next, I delegated the tasks that I could easily train someone else to do. My first employees packaged the products. This was practically life-altering. We could not only get so much more done, but we could also keep up with orders better, and even increase sales.
Along with the new employees came a service to clean the office. I realized I was spending a couple hours a week cleaning the office, so this was an easy decision.
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A little while later, I hired someone to pack and ship orders. Then, an office manager that could field phone calls, take phone orders and perform some of the bookkeeping functions.
Suddenly, I had time not only to finish important tasks and contact customers on a regular basis, but I could also get my schoolwork completed. Deciding to hire employees and delegate was difficult at first; it seemed like I was failing because I couldn’t do it all. But what I soon understood was that I could do a better job because I could spend my time building my business. Hiring others to do some of the tasks that were either tedious or time-consuming not only freed up my time for other things, but it freed me from the monotony of those tasks. I was able to focus on the portions of my business that would allow it to grow.
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